Maternity leave

All pregnant employees can take up to 52 weeks’ maternity leave around the birth of their child. This is to help you prepare for, recover and care for the baby.

This statutory maternity leave (SML) is made up of 26 weeks’ “ordinary maternity leave” followed immediately by 26 weeks’ additional maternity leave.

During statutory maternity leave, you may be entitled to statutory maternity pay for up to 39 weeks of your maternity leave. Apart from wages, you keep your normal employment rights and benefits throughout all of your statutory maternity leave.

Before you go on maternity leave, you are entitled to paid time off during working hours to attend antenatal appointments such as medical examinations and relaxation classes if advised by a registered medical practitioner, registered midwife or registered nurse.

Employees should notify their employer of the appointment and, if asked, provide proof of pregnancy (such as the MAT B1 form) and proof of the appointment for the second and subsequent appointments.

“Keeping in touch days” let you work up to ten days’ during your statutory maternity leave, without losing maternity pay or maternity allowance or ending your leave. These may be used for any kind of work, including training or any activity undertaken for the purpose of keeping in touch with the workplace.

If you are entitled to statutory maternity pay or a maternity allowance, your husband, partner or civil partner or the father of the child (if not the same) may be eligible for additional paternity leave and pay (APL&P), meaning they can take up to 26 weeks of leave from work.

Maternity leave and maternity pay are complex areas – and your employer may exceed the statutory minimums. Familiarise yourself with your employer’s policies on maternity leave.

Whilst on maternity leave, new mothers can suspend their UNISON subscriptions. Contact the Branch office to do this. However, on your return to the workplace, you will need to contact the Branch office to reinstate your subs, or you won’t be covered by UNISON membership!